Images courtesy of Schmuck Built
For many of us who are enthusiastic about the automotive arts, the creative life of a fabricator is desirable—they are the metallic artists we all dream of becoming. We gaze into the mastery of race cars and wish we could execute the bracing, tubing, or the ad hoc solutions to many automotive matters, and they take the reins to create it. It’s an art form that is becoming increasingly visual as time progresses. We covered the topic of fabrication art in exceptional detail in our article with Vibrant Performance. We can’t think of anyone who fits the bill of an automotive fabrication artist more than Jason Schmuck, the namesake of the renowned Schmuck Built shop in Mechanicsburg, PA.
If his name sounds familiar, perhaps you’ve had the pleasure of seeing his impressive talents of metal product creation from scratch in our articles. Maybe his Honda S2000 project vehicle struck your fancy at the SEMA Show or PRI, or you’re one of the lucky fanatics who physically owns one of his creations. He’s one of those fabricators who needs no introduction; his work is everywhere, it’s flawless, and it speaks for itself. Jason recently worked on this street setup Honda Civic for SFWD drag racer, Tim Minsker, and we thought it prudent to find out the details of what went into the process.
Throughout its time at his shop, the K-series engine-swapped Civic experienced numerous updates to its engine bay and exhaust. Schmuck utilized a myriad of 2.5-inch and 3.0-inch diameter Vibrant Performance pieces in the process, including:
- Titanium pie cut kits
- Titanium straight tubing
- HD Ferrule clamps
- Stainless steel bellows
- STREETPOWER Oval Offset Muffler
- Ultra Quiet Oval Resonator
- Mandrel-bent stainless steel tubing
- Horizontal Flow Intercooler core
When Minsker initially dropped the Civic off, there wasn’t necessarily an outlined plan for the build. After the two combined late last year to build Minsker’s SFWD drag car before World Cup Finals, it was evident that the fabricator’s talent level matched his vision; he was confident he could have incredible fabrication work performed—regardless of the vehicle.
“He just wanted to throw together a really clean street car to drive around,” says Schmuck.
What a wild street setup, too! The Civic started its journey in rough shape, but Minsker’s daily duties as the owner of a body shop transformed it into a beautiful specimen fit for an artistic engine bay. It just needed the touch of a talented fabricator to complete the job.
After the Civic was delivered to Schmuck Built and ready for new additions, Jason began his usual process for mapping out the necessary work—except he doesn’t draft projects how you might think.
“I have a knack for figuring out that kind of stuff in my head, and then it happens. I’ve done a bunch of stuff that’s very similar. So, the piping I can kind of figure out how I want to do it, and then it just kind of works,” says Schmuck.
That’s right, no fancy plastic molds, CAD software, or 3D printers to map out bends. Schmuck gets the job done to an incredible level using only his most powerful muscle: his brain.
So what was on the agenda for the Civic?
“I think the exhaust was the first thing I did. The exhaust was one of the Speedfactory [Racing] cat-back kits. It’s designed to be a slip-fit with a clamp kit. I cut it, put in V-bands, and put the Oval Ultra Quiet Resonator in the middle of it. I cut it and put an Oval Offset Muffler on it, and I did a little pie turndown tip.”
Using the pre-made mandrel bends precisely oriented for different Civic exhaust setups cut down on the labor needed to form the system in question. By adding in Vibrant Performance updates like the resonator, muffler, V-band connection points, and pie cuts on the tailpipe, Schmuck was able to craft a high-quality solution without sacrificing his time or too much cost upfront.
Feeding into the exhaust is an off-the-shelf Schmuck Built Sidewinder turbocharger manifold. Then, using more Vibrant Performance bends and V-band connectors, Schmuck visualized and crafted an exquisite 3.0-inch downpipe to feed into the completed exhaust system.
With the spent gases’ route now covered, Schmuck moved to the intake side of the equation next by fabricating a combination tucked radiator and intercooler setup.
“I figure out how I want to run the [intercooler] piping, and then I build the intercooler/radiator combo second. From there, that gives you your connecting points to run all of the intercooler piping.”
This brings us to what Schmuck describes as the most challenging part: the mesmerizing pie-cut titanium charge piping. While it is without question the most eye-catching and glorious addition to the bay of this Civic, it is not without its headaches to construct this component.
“Titanium is difficult to work with—it’s very easy to mess up welding it. To keep it looking the way I want my stuff to look, if you got it, you got it. If you don’t, it sucks. It’s not a hard material to weld. It’s just very temperamental to get the results that I want.”
Although it demands perfection in its build process, the beautiful reward the titanium pieces create is well worth their pains. The final product, burnt into a spectacular rainbow of color, is sure to catch the attention of anyone who sees the bay. And since Schmuck properly back-purges argon through each piece of tubing that he fabricates, the customer can rest assured all welds are sound and that the air passing through the final product is unimpeded.
“I did the catch can last, that was like an afterthought while the car was there. Like ‘here throw this in there, too,” says Schmuck.
Since this is Tim’s street car, you might see it at some meets or shows local to his area, or maybe he’ll bring it as a showpiece for his paddock area at a race—we don’t know for sure. What we do know is that observing the final product is incredible. To understand that each solution was built from scratch, using only mental images of its outcome is a testament to the talent of Jason Schmuck. We love showcasing what he’s working on, so look out for some more projects in the future as he completes them. Thanks for sharing it with us!